The 404th meeting of CABI’s Executive Council was informed that Chileshe Kapwepwe will be the first female Chair of the CABI Board and the first holder of the post from an African country, succeeding Roger Horton in April 2024.

A Zambian national, Ms Kapwepwe is the General Secretary of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and has been a member of the CABI Board since 2022.

CABI’s CEO Dr Daniel Elger told the meeting that CABI’s work continues to help tackle humanity’s greatest challenges under its Medium-Term Strategy (MTS) 2023-2025, which was approved by the organisation’s 48 Member Countries in late 2022 and is being implemented in partnership with them.

Majority of the MTS’s first-year targets met

Dr Elger told the meeting that the majority of the MTS’s first-year targets had been met, and that useful lessons are being learnt where target have not yet been achieved towards the five major goals of the MTS for 2023-2025.

He said CABI is continuing to work closely with Members to implement the plans and achieve the targets of the goals that address poverty, hunger, climate change, gender inequality and loss of biodiversity.

Dr Elger said, “I welcome Chileshe Kapwepwe as our new Board Chair and look forward to working with her as we seek to further expand CABI’s worldwide impact and our offer to Member Countries. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Roger Horton for his distinguished service to CABI over an eventful six years.

“I’m pleased to report today a strong performance on the work we are undertaking with our Member Countries to deliver on CABI’s Medium-Term Strategy. However, given the huge challenges we are working on, we know we must continually redouble our efforts, working in close partnership with our Member Countries and other partners.”

CABI’s International Development and Knowledge Management business units continue to deliver for Members

Welcoming representatives from many of CABI’s Member Countries, His Excellency Mr Vishnu Dhanpaul, Chair of Executive Council, said good progress had been made on CABI’s International Development and Knowledge Management activities during 2023, with growth in the organisation’s programme of activity around the world.

Progress highlighted by Dr Elger included gaining donor support for the scale-up phase of CABI’s flagship food security programme PlantwisePlus based on an independent review of the programme and its performance during a proof-of-concept phase.

The new phase is expected to deploy around £90 million of funding through the seven years from 2024 to 2030. It will support work across at least 27 countries – taking the cumulative reach of the programme to around 75 million people.

Dr Elger also mentioned the completed migration of CABI’s knowledge and information products onto the CABI Digital Library – generating 39 million page views (a three-fold increase), including almost 10 million views from 46 Member Countries.

He also said thousands of students from four African universities are benefiting from science journalism modules from SciDev.Net’s Script training programme as part of their degree studies.

Budget and financial plan approved

The Executive Council approved CABI’s budget for 2024 and financial plan for 2025-2026, which are critical to delivery of the MTS and commitments made under Joint Action Plans with individual Member Countries.

Dr Elger said 35 of these action plans are now in place from among CABI’s Member Countries and engagement during 2023 included CEO-led delegations to the Caribbean region and to China, where the fifteenth anniversary of the Joint Laboratory with the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs was celebrated.

Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi played a key role in a workshop to plan CABI’s major new initiative in Integrated Landscape Management (ILM), and institutions across Member Countries provided many authors and users of CABI’s published content.

Vital links between food systems and climate action

Dr Elger noted that 2023 was another turbulent year across much of the world. Against this challenging backdrop, an important positive development was increased recognition of the vital links between food systems and climate action, reflected in the UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action signed by over 150 countries at COP-28.

Signatories have agreed to scale up their efforts to support climate adaptation and the resilience of smallholder farmers by including food system-based targets, outcomes, and indicators in their next round of updates to Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs) in 2025.

CABI contributed to global meetings critical to this agenda, including the G20 Agricultural Chief Scientists’ Meeting in India, the Africa Food Systems Forum (AGRF), the UK’s Global Food Summit, GLAST-7 (Global Leaders in Agricultural Science and Technology) in China, and COP-28 itself, and will continue to support Member Countries as their plans evolve.

New partnerships with global and regional institutions

CABI also forged new partnerships with global and regional institutions while strengthening existing links, for example through the signing of a global Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

An MoU was also signed with Imperial College London to strengthen collaboration ahead of the move of CABI’s UK research site to Imperial’s Silwood Park Campus in Berkshire, England.

Dr Elger said CABI is also pleased to have become the Secretariat for the new UK CGIAR Centre, which is designed to foster enhanced collaboration between CGIAR, UK research institutions and researchers in the Global South.

Key priorities for 2024

He added that key priorities for 2024 will see CABI continuing to enhance engagement with Member Countries to deliver the MTS and individual country Action Plans and build its international development portfolio – including the scale-up phase of the CABI-led PlantwisePlus programme.

Dr Elger added that CABI will also advance the ILM Initiative and build on the opportunities to enhance CABI’s products and services provided by the CABI Digital Library and by generative AI.

At the meeting, His Excellency Mr Vishnu Dhanpaul (Trinidad and Tobago) was re-elected as the Chair of Executive Council for 2024. Dr Eliud Kireger (Kenya) was re-elected as a Member Country Board Observer, and Mr Tanvir Azam (Bangladesh) was elected as an Observer for the first time. Mr Duncan Barker will continue to represent the UK as a Board Observer.


Additional information

Main image:  CABI’s Executive Council has been told how CABI continues to progress it’s work to help tackle humanity’s greatest challenges including improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and greater food security (Credit: CABI).

About Chileshe Kapwepwe


Chileshe Kapwepwe joined the Board of CABI in 2022. She is the current General Secretary of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Ms Kapwepwe has a strong track record in leadership, business and operations management, and policy formulation and implementation. She is a former Executive Director on the International Monetary Fund Board and previously held senior roles in Zambia’s government and national institutions, including Deputy Finance Minister and Member of Parliament.